Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Consider This A Rock 'N' Roll Song ... Or Heavy Metal"

An in progress shot of "Like Stained Glass" (oil on canvas, 19"x28"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

It was actually punk rock I was listening to as I painted at this year's Plein Air Easton Festival. I believe judge West Fraser's comment "You might consider this a rock 'n' roll song ... or heavy metal" was referring to the energy of the brushstrokes in my painting "Like Stained Glass." His remarks regarding the work of the festival overall compared painting to music, and I have to completely agree. This year, I did my best to get into a comfortable groove.




It was a hot one, and Kimberly and I made the decision to start each day early to beat the heat. You also can't beat the beauty of the early morning light, just before and just after the sunrise.

Our view each morning. Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Fuel to set the morning tempo.
The great staff at the Avalon Theater
got us moving every morning with Rise Up Coffee.

The first paint out was at Tilghman Island, and we arrived at 5:30 am. The sun had not yet crested the horizon, which made for some beautifully subtle colors. I had painted in this marina last year, and after being sprayed with grass from a riding lawnmower by a salty sea captain who wasn't happy about my presence, this year I opted to set up on the concrete. If we hadn't arrived early, I would have boiled, but by 9 a.m., the painting was complete. Now to find some air conditioning!

"Before the Heat, Knapps Narrows" (oil on linen, 14"x18"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Friday was orientation day, and since a storm was scheduled to roll in that afternoon, I opted to scout locations rather than paint. We also made time to head over to Delaware for our annual Dogfish Head Brewery visit. It's all about the groove, remember?

Saturday morning, we started out early once again. One of the memories that had stuck with me from last year's competition was the way light shines through the many tree lines in the area, especially at sunrise and sunset. I wanted to capture this, and I found it on the Calhoon M.E.B.A. Engineering School campus. We had our coffee, I had my tunes, and I settled right into painting. The effects of the sunrise didn't last long, so my paint application came through with more energy than usual.



Saturday evening was the welcome dinner. The event was held on a beautiful property with an amazing car collection. I'm not a car painter, but I'm always open to new challenges. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to paint a classic Corvette.

My first car portrait. Sorry, it sold so fast, I only have this iPhone shot.

Sunday was the paint out in Oxford. Keeping the groove going, Kimberly and I arrived at 6 a.m., and I set up at the Hinckley Yacht Services Marina. These iconic boats are unbelievable. I painted one here last year (my first year of painting boats), and I wanted to revisit the subject. The lines of the hulls, the masts - they all make for an exciting composition.

One of my favorite places to paint.

"Hinckley Yacht Marina" (oil on linen, 14"x18"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

When I say I was in the groove, maybe that works not only with painting, but with karma. After finishing the painting, I set down my backpack next to our truck while I popped the canvas into a frame for safekeeping. I closed up the back of the truck, and Kimberly and I drove off to grab some breakfast. An hour later, when I dropped off my painting for the day's exhibit, I was asked if I knew anyone who was missing a backpack filled with art supplies. At the same time, I received a message on my phone from the event organizers - "Don't freak out if you lost your backpack, we found it!" And there it was in the corner - my backpack. I had left it next to the truck after framing the painting and driven away. I didn't freak, because I never even noticed. The groove continues.

On Monday, I found some beautiful purple hydrangeas that made me nervous to even consider capturing, so naturally I decided to paint them. Put on the headphones. Get lost in the music. Get lost in the composition. A short time later, and I was thrilled with the outcome. I set the painting down on the tailgate of the truck and reached over it to grab a frame. It was then that I noticed a complete reversed image of the painting on my t-shirt. It made contact with the entire painting as I leaned over it! Panic! But wait, after close inspection, I realized that the original was relatively unharmed. My shirt hadn't wiped the piece, only pressed downward on it. I just added a couple of the thicker strokes back in, and it was back in the groove.

An in progress shot.

"Burst" (oil on linen, 6"x8"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Tuesday looked to be yet another hot one. Time to try something new. Plein Air Easton allows interior paintings, something I had yet to attempt. Kimberly and I went to the Tidewater Inn, where I was allowed to set up in their Skipjack Bar. I really liked the light in the room, loved the air conditioning, and to top it all off, they have Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA on tap. A steady stream of lunch patrons came and went as I painted. It was the most laid back painting experience of the entire festival.


Painting at the Skipjack. Yes, that's Dogfish on tap.
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

"Tidewater Refuge" (oil on linen, 18"x24"). Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Wednesday night, Harrison Street was closed down at 8:30 p.m. so that we could set up in the street and paint nocturnes. Night painting makes me nervous because of past eye surgery. I had only attempted it once before, last year in Annapolis, but Kimberly kept encouraging me to give it another shot. Time to try again. I chose to paint the Avalon Theater. Lots of lights inside and out. The painting went better than I expected and was sold before I even finished.

"Avalon Noir" (oil on linen, 12"x16"). My second nocturne ever. Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Thursday was framing and turn in time, followed by a relaxing evening.

Friday was the big opening. It was another wonderful show with so many great paintings. I was honored to receive the Imagine Two Futures Award for my painting "Like Stained Glass." The show continued through Sunday, and I was even more pleased to find that every painting I created that week found a home. Rock 'n' roll, heavy metal, punk rock? Doesn't matter. I was in the groove all week and had a wonderful time.

"Like Stained Glass" (oil on canvas, 19"x28"). Winner of the Imagine Two Futures Award.
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
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